I recently saw a cartoon that depicted two men digging for diamonds. One of the characters was working hard and swinging his pick axe with all his might. A glittering stash of diamonds rested just on the other side of the wall he was hammering. It seemed his hard work was about to pay off. The other man had a different posture. Though a similar load of diamonds was within his reach, his axe was on the ground, and he was walking away in despair. He didn’t see his potential, so he gave up. The image was intended to promote the importance of perseverance. Indeed, persistence often pays off in all realms of life. Such is true in the spiritual realm as well. You can’t read the New Testament without seeing the importance of spiritual perseverance. Many of Paul’s writings are marked with appeals for endurance (1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9; and Philippians 3:14). Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Spiritual success requires steadfastness. To embody such perseverance, commit to endure in the following three areas.
Endure in Bible truth.
The principles of God’s Word are our most powerful catalyst for spiritual endurance. The Bible boasts that its pages have an ability to make us holy (John 17:7), wise (Psalm 119:9), faithful (Romans 10:17), spiritually mature (1 Peter 2:2), and morally pure (Psalm 119:9). I once attended a men’s conference that warned of moral failure within the lives of Christian men. One speaker spoke of the way in which his church had worked with hundreds of men who had made major, moral blunders. When asked what led to their downfall, most confessed they had been negligent in personal worship. Prayer and God’s Word were not a priority in their lives. If you want to stay in the spiritual race the Lord has for you, start each day with God’s Word (Psalm 119:147). Remember God’s people are to be a people of God’s truth (1 Timothy 3:15)!
Endure in gospel mission.
One of the last things Jesus said before leaving His disciples was this: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Our Lord’s plan for building His kingdom wasn’t founded upon a catchy slogan, a sophisticated program, a style of music, or an entertaining spectacle. Plain and simple, Jesus intended to build His kingdom through disciples who simply tell others about Him. I once had a mentor tell me that personal evangelism is one of the best safeguards against spiritual ruin. When we are busy witnessing, it is more difficult to get sidetracked by sin and self-driven living.
Endure in kingdom service.
Working hard within the church can serve like a vaccine that makes us immune to spiritual apathy and inactivity. Sure, we want to avoid a performance-driven religion that is devoid of true Christian devotion. However, we must also see that there is great power in using our spiritual gifts for the benefit of Christ’s body (Romans 12:3-8). Our service for others has a powerful way of getting our focus off of ourselves. When we aren’t preoccupied with what we want and need, we will be more likely to stay on the straight and narrow (Matthew 7:14)!
Dr. Patrick Latham